Mar 21, 2016
At drupa 2012 Xeikon made a splash by showcasing a new liquid toner technology under the Trillium brand name. Although it was quite apparent that Xeikon was banking the future of its digital imaging business on Trillium, it has not said much about the technology recently, and then the anticipated delivery to French direct mail printer TagG Informatique in 2015 was missed.
On March 17th 2016 Xeikon finally gave a detailed update on Trillium. The first product will be commercialised under the Trillium One name, as originally announced with a 60 meter per minute (200 fpm) speed, 1,200 dpi imaging resolution and 50 cm (20”) web width. Imaging speed is laid out for 120 m/min, so a future speed upgrade should be possible.
There have also been some improvements under the hood. Xeikon is still showing a four colour duplex configuration, but switched to a two-tower design with intermediate drying. The company also revealed the partnership it had with Miyakoshi for several years already to develop the press base. The partnership with Miyakoshi is interesting for a number of reasons. Miyakoshi is producing the press base for a number of continuous feed inkjet press vendors and certainly acquired substantial know-how in heavy duty digital press design. For Xeikon however it marks a departure of its internal press design and manufacturing. Remarkable is that Miyakoshi offers liquid toner technology as well: under its own label as a continuous feed printer (MDP 5000) and co-developed with Ryobi on a cut-sheet press design (the latter to be commercialised at drupa 2016 as well). According to Xeikon both liquid toner technologies are separate developments with separate sets of intellectual property.
The target market of Trillium One remains in commercial printing, especially direct mail, catalogues and magazines. There are no immediate plans to expand into packaging and Xeikon continues to address the label and packaging market with the dry toner systems. Within commercial print Xeikon is targeting Trillium at high quality requirements and high coverage. Xeikon reckons that for more than 50-60% coverage Trillium is competitive against inkjet, but has not specified consumable costs.
Xeikon Trillium at the pre-drupa demo
A good sign of Xeikon being much closer to commercialisation is that the company handed out print samples during the event. The samples demonstrate the high quality targeted and are printed on standard lightweight coated paper, still a challenge for most inkjet printers.
The cautious introduction schedule with the first press slated for installation in Q2 2017 bears witness however to the challenges still to overcome. The event demonstrated a high quality potential and a sound press design, but a final product needs to able to deliver high quality at high productivity levels in day-to-day production. There are certainly unique opportunities that liquid toner printing can bring to high volume colour printing and Trillium would be a good complement to the dominant inkjet technology.
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